November’s ‘Going To the Races (Dressed Like a Racist)’ was a hard gnarly hive of squeal-clatter punk. It’s was bright, it was crude, sharp and sweet. The New America return, with their anger and ire, in the new release ‘Hong Kong Free Press’.
The first thing that hits is the change. The introductory mass made of caustic guitars that ground their way through the last single, is replaced by a treble-based grunge. It’s lighter, less scratching, sitting somewhere between that 90s Britpop-amp sound of Longpigs or Suede or Elastica, and the late 70’s mod of The Jam. But that original heat does shine through. There’s a mid-section rasp of guitar spit and wail, it’s a sign that the taste still remains. That’s not to say this is any less urgent, though it might be a little more civil.
This is still protest music in punk. And the single’s uniquely well timed. Who’d have thought that a track about Hong Kong Free Press and democratic restrictions would hit home when we’re questioning ours? Here in UK on the week of release, in the very home city of The New America, curfews and clampdowns on protests are protested, new rules of law kick up a stink. It’s a thrill to have fight songs that sync with the times, however half-luck and chanced that might be.
So back to the track and its anger. With the focus more weighted on vocals than noise, it’s easier to pick out the barbs. The aggression, assertion, the grievance is clear, words are chewed like a Bristol Joe Strummer. Choruses hang like The Jam’s ‘In The City’ while verses hotwire them together. It might be just a touch or a hint of a shame that the mix isn’t quite as full-throated as could be. But TNA are still fresh, just a few singles in, with their sound on recordings still forming. There’s plenty of reason and cause to stay patient, to hang back and see what firms up.